Based on the graphic novel series Hildafolk by Luke Pearson, Hilda follows the titular character as she and her mother move from the wilderness to Trolberg and Hilda adjusts to life surrounded by humans instead of creatures.
Hilda is bright, adventurous, and excitable with a snarky side. The show follows her journey and is a delight. It is beautifully animated and with a gorgeous score that’s definitely going into my rotation should Netflix decide to release it, although we’re still waiting for the A Series of Unfortunate Events score so it seems unlikely. The opening theme is by Grimes and in it, Hilda invites you on a journey of friendship, magic, and family. It makes returning to reality seems just a touch duller.
In this Craig of the Creek meets Harry Potter series, Hilda takes childhood fantasies and games and imbues them with real magic. The show features giants who sleep for thousands of years, tiny elves who find glory in paperwork, and a (literal) woodman neighbor who casually disregards all rules of polite society.
Even in the town of Trolberg, named for actual trolls kept out by walls, there is magic, It has its own secrets to discover. Hilda moves to the city with two creatures of her own, Twig, her deerfox pet, and Alfur, an elf who wants to discover all the lost paperwork in the world. In town, she makes friends with two kids, David and Frieda, and joins The Sparrow Scouts which facilitates many of their adventures. Collecting badges become much more exciting when Hilda gets involved.
Hilda, David, and Frieda are very reminiscent of Harry, Ron, and Hermione although David also has a quite bit of Neville in him as well. A lot of adults who grew up on the Harry Potter books will be delighted by the parallels and will be reminded of the wonder they felt entering Hogwarts. However, Hilda has a soft whimsical and comforting tone compared to the urgency of saving the wizarding world but it’s definitely welcome. There’s an almost Ghibli-like slice of magical life aspect at times to the show.
One of my favorite parts of Hilda is the strong mother-daughter bond. Hilda’s mom knows exactly her daughter’s strengths. She encourages them and loves them rather than letting others try and normalize them out of Hilda. So many childhood tales foist independence on the kids through indifference or absence of parents but Hilda has no desire to be away from her mom (don’t worry she stills shows some typical pre-teen defiance and embarrassment) and the story is so much stronger for it. Stories that show children aren’t helpless without adults are absolutely important but it’s so nice to see.
In the short week that it’s been out, Hilda has generated quite the fanbase in part because it is exactly the type of show the world needs. It’s earnest, hopeful, and full of love. It looks like we’ll be getting merch soon too which is great because I need a plush Twig in my life. If you’re going to be at NYCC you should definitely check out the show’s booth and the panel. Also, if you haven’t already definitely watched the show soon as there’s a lot of exciting stuff in the works including a mobile game app that comes out October 18. Here’s hoping the next announcement is a season 2.